Question

Can a house be raised to avoid flooding?

Asked by Diana Martin
Fishkill, NY

We live in a flood zone and flooding is occurring more and more frequently. We have a raised ranch style home so our downstairs is living space. It is not underground. Is there a way to raise the house to avoid flooding? If not, are there any products for walls and floors etc. that would be mold free?

Answer

Answered by Robert Emert

Livingston, NJ

Robert G. Emert Architect, Inc.

March 27, 2012

Yes, your house can be raised to avoid flooding.

  • It won't be inexpensive, but it may be cost effective compared to moving and not getting full value for your current home.
  • In areas of New Jersey where I am working, it is a requirement, when the renovation/addition cost is more than fifty percent of the cost of the existing house.

You will need to contact a surveyor to perform two tasks.

  • The first is to establish the floor level of the lowest living level of your house, and
  • the second is to establish the height of the flood zone in which you are located.

Once you have this information I suggest that review it with the town building and engineering departments.

Once you have established the height that you need to raise the structure then you need to contact a rigger which is a contractor specializing in this type of work.

  • You will also need to contact a general contractor to handle work which will be required such as extending the foundation, disconnecting and connecting utilities, modification to exterior site work such as steps accessing the house, etc.
  • Although you are not planning on any addition to your house, if it is been flooded, the groundwater in the area is likely to be fairly high, so you should hire a geo-technical engineer to verify soil bearing and existing footings are adequate.

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.